Stop Murmuring and Disputing With God When He’s Trying To Change You!
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings.
— Philippians 2:13,14
Would you like to see some real, deep changes occur in your character and behavior? Maybe you’ve tried to do it on your own, but feel you have failed time after time. Well, today we will look at Philippians 2:13, which emphatically tells us that God is not only interested in helping us change, but it is His express will to take what we are and make us better!
Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Let’s begin by looking at that word “worketh” before we go any further, for it is a Greek word that will make you want to shout with a voice of victory if you really understand and embrace it!
The word “worketh” is the Greek word energeo — the word from which we get our word energy. In Greek, however, it describes much more than that. It means the divine energy put forth to effectually bring forth a tangible, noticeable change. Plus, Paul writes it as a present active participle, which means this word describes the unequivocal will of God to put forth power constantly, in every moment, active at every second that will change our character and behavior permanently.
Of course, God is thrilled when we come to Christ just as we are, but He is not satisfied that we stay the way we are when we first come to Him! Furthermore, God knows that we cannot change ourselves. So the moment we surrender to the Lordship of Christ, it triggers a release of power — a supernatural flow of divine energy to bring forth changes that make us more like Him!
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In fact, the verse continues to say that it is His “good pleasure” to do this in us. The words “good pleasure” are translated from the word eudokia, which is a compound of the words eu and dokia. The word eu means depicts a feeling of deep satisfaction — and the word dokia is the word for God’s pleasure.
Compounded into one word, the new word means it gives God the deepest gratification to take us with all our quirks, blemishes, and inconsistencies — the mess we were when we came to Christ — and unleash His divine energeo in order to effectually and productively bring forth a tangible, noticeable change in our lives that is permanent. And as I noted before, Paul writes this as a present active participle, which means God in every moment is releasing this divine power to change us. There’s never a second that God isn’t working deep in our hearts, souls, and character to bring us forth as more mature sons and daughters of God — to be more like Him.
We all have areas in which we need a character adjustment, and about which we often cry out in prayer for God to change us. To this prayer, God gladly complies and expends a flow of supernatural power to change us. But when He begins to work deeply in our character to bring about those much-needed changes, that is often when our flesh begins to murmur and dispute with God. While we cry out for permanent change, our flesh doesn’t enjoy what God has to do to change us!
I could give many examples of how the flesh starts to grumble when God goes to work to change it, but for the sake of space and time, let me give you just three examples that you’ll clearly understand.
Consider the process that people have to go through when they have been a gossip who run their mouths about other people all the time and God’s power inside goes to work to teach and train them to keep their mouths shut. They have been in the habit of gossiping and being busybodies for a long time. Now suddenly God is telling them, “Keep your mouth shut and stay out of other people’s business”!
Obeying that command can be a difficult thing for people like that to do. In fact, it can be so difficult that the flesh may rebel at first — and perhaps even for a long time. The power that is trying to effect a deep and permanent character change is working — but rather than be compliant, those individuals may be tempted to murmur and even dispute with God about how hard it is to keep their mouths shut!
Or how about people who have been in the habit of overeating all their lives? Now God speaks to their hearts and says, “Enough is enough. I am going to effect a change in this area of your life.”
At first, people may be thrilled that God is going to help them. But when the help begins and God says, “Shut the refrigerator, walk away, and don’t take another bite,” their flesh may recoil at what God is asking them to do. Their flesh screams for more and can even be manipulating in its attempts to get and have more — but they can sense that the Holy Spirit is firmly telling them, “NO!”
The fact is, God is releasing the power to effect the change that these individual have long desired. Compliance and obedience would actually make the process of change flow much smoother and be much easier. But the flesh puts up a fight and often even murmurs and disputes with God, making the change take longer and become more difficult.
Let’s also use the example of people who don’t know how to put away the credit cards but continue to spend, spend, spend even when their behavior places their financial life in jeopardy. Then they ask God to help them. Now “help” is there in the form of God’s divine energy working inside them.
But the next time these individuals go shopping and the Spirit of God rises up like a standard against that bad habit, the flesh also tries to rise up. Flesh recoils at any form of newly imposed discipline!
The Holy Spirit gently but firmly tells these believers, “You don’t need this, and you don’t need that — you don’t need any of this. Put your credit cards away and go home.” But they resist what they know the Lord is speaking to their hearts. They may even begin to argue with Him. Once again, compliance and obedience would bring forth a quick transformation, but the flesh doesn’t like to be told what to do.
It’s interesting that the word “murmur” is the Greek word goggusmos, which is the expression of dissatisfaction, grumbling, or muttering negatively in a low tone of voice. In other words, your murmuring may not be an out-loud arguing with God. Rather, you may just harbor a silent resentment and resistance to what He is trying to do inside you.
The word “disputings” is the Greek word dialogismos, and it depicts an inward skepticism or inward criticism — a questioning of what is being demanded. It also depicts rebellion against God’s work inside us. It is the very word that is used in the Old Testament Greek Septuagint to depict the rebellion of God’s people against His commands.
- The fact is, the gossiper can stop gossiping.
- The overeater can stop overeating.
- The person who spends money irresponsibly can change his spending habits.
- WHATEVER the problem is, it is subject to change.
Why am I so confident that all of these issues you might have in your life — and other issues besides — are subject to change? Because it is God who “…worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The power you need to change is already inside you, just waiting for your compliance and obedience. When you stop moaning and groaning and disputing with God — and you stop muttering in a low-toned voice against what He is asking you to do — you will be on your way to experiencing the energeo of God to assist you in whatever change you need to make. If you will surrender to the power that is at work in you at this very second, instead of putting up a fight, you can conquer any character flaw, and God’s mighty power will change you to become more like Him!
So what are you going to do? If you have been muttering and rebelling at what God’s power is resident in you to do, today is a fine day to surrender to that ever-present power and let the Holy Spirit transform you, set you free, and make you the person you always wanted to be!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, as I surrender to the Lordship of Christ, my act of obedience triggers a release of power and a supernatural flow of divine energy to produce change and transformation until I am shaped into the image of Christ. Lord, I ask You to make my thoughts agreeable to Your will while Your mighty power is trying to effect a deep and permanent character change within me. I make a decision right now to be compliant and to obey You as You work in me by Your Spirit to make me be the person You created me to be!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God is working in me to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The power I need to change is already inside me, just waiting for my compliance and obedience. When I stop moaning and muttering and disputing with God about what He is asking me to do, I see His hand at work in my life. When I stop putting up a fight and surrender to the power that is at work in me at this very second, I can conquer any character flaw as God’s mighty power changes me to become more like Him.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of areas in your life where the Holy Spirit has been working in you to make some changes, but your flesh has been putting up a fight to resist His work?
- Do you see more clearly that even though God has released His divine energeo — divine energy — to effectively and permanently change you, it still requires your compliance and obedience for His power to effectively operate in your life?
- Can you name specific areas in your life where you have been murmuring and complaining about the changes God is requiring of you? If the answer is yes, are you able to explain to yourself why have you been making it more difficult for those needed changes to take place in your life?